Storytelling is our past, present and future

24th February 2015

native_american_storytellerBefore we had the written word, we were storytelling.  We used stories as a tool to learn, to share, to laugh, to warn.  Apparently our brains even crave stories, the modern world is unrecognisable, but the power of storytelling endures.

I have noticed that my favourite people are master storytellers.  Most importantly for me, those stories are inspired by real life experiences and are not works of fiction.

HONY-vidal1Some really powerful stories that cut through the noise are being told in some unusual places. I am constantly in awe of the Humans of New York, the story of Vidal and his headteacher Mrs Lopez, who was on the brink of giving up resonates with me and I have retold it myself many times.
B9ZLHFZIgAAClfhThis example was also shared at a brilliant event I recently attended called the Social Media Exchange (SMEX15) by Sounddelivery. The theme for this was ‘Being the story’; there were so many examples of brilliant storytelling that I found it to be very moving.  I found the opening speech by the natural born storyteller Darren Murinas to be particularly inspiring I recommend you read his story.

Youtube and in particular vlogging is showcasing the powerful combination of technology and storytelling and changing the landscape of advertising in the process. At the SMEX15 event there were talks on having a creative Youtube strategy and Vlogging by Olga Golab.

@Jjabels “Vlogging isn’t about talking to the camera like a news anchor. That doesn’t build a relationship.” -Olga from @YTCreators #SMEX15

@karenjkhart #Vlogging stays intimate: a one-to-one relationship even if ‘audience’ is in millions #SMEX15 @YTCreators

It was clear from all the discussions on the day that real people sharing their story from the heart is always powerful and compelling.

Storytelling expert Jude Habib who runs Sounddelivery and organises the Social Media Exchange conference wrote a fascinating blog for JustGiving sharing examples of her top picks of charities who are demonstrating powerful authentic storytelling in their online communications to great effect.

call-the-midwife-season-2-580Call the Midwife is a BBC Drama series following the lives of a group of midwives working in the poverty-stricken East End of London during the 1950s, based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth.

I think it’s another great example of sharing stories written in the first person, some of which are deeply sad and some incredibly joyous, but I believe the reason it is so loved is that it is based on real world events.

“We’re not defined by the things that make us separate and distinct, but by the moments that we share and the memories we make.” – Jennifer Worth.

call the midwife illustrated470-3x2aStories unite us

People love to hear human interest stories, our challenge is to showcase stories from people who do not have a platform to share them and grab the attention of new audiences with the power of authentic storytelling. My hope is that by sharing these stories, being brave and exposing our vulnerabilities, that we can create cultural change and realise that we are all more similar than we might think and we are all connected.

Further reading:

Another great session from SMEX15

Brilliant storify by Tennyson Insurance summarising the SMEX15 event

Great examples of how to do #charity #vlogging well & inspire change from @vinspired’s #SwingtheVote campaign  #SMEX15 (Tweet by Sounddelivery)

Social Media Exchange keynote speaker and award-winning filmmaker Penny Woolcock films that are essential viewing:

One Mile Away

Tina Goes Shopping

The Wet House

Tina Takes a Break